Friday, August 08, 2014

Um, can we have a double dissolution first?

Medical payments to go private

This sounds like a very dubious proposition to me:
In an advertisement in today’s The Australian Financial Review, the Department of Health calls for com­panies to express interest inproviding claims and payment services for the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), the second-biggestresponsibility of the Department of Human Services after welfare payments.

It follows the allocation of $500,000 in this year’s budget, largely unnoticed, for market testing.

“We’re determined to put into place a 21st-century payment system that will be more efficient for patients and doctors,” Health Minister Peter Dutton said. “It will reduce red tape for doctors and streamline their administrative processes and, we believe, deliver a ­saving to the
The contract is likely to be highly complicated. The new providerwould have to be capable of processing a ­collective $29 billion of claims from 600 million transactions a year conducted for the Department of Health, and nearly $2.5 billion in claims from 33 million transactions for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

The size of the job and requirement for a physical shopfront presence means few existing Australian companies would be capable of carrying out the task. But it could provide an extremely lucrative and stable revenue stream for successful candidates.
The suggestion seems to be that the Post Office might take it over (!).  So all of those franchised post offices will need to find new, larger premises and scores of extra staff, taught about health and veteran's benefits processing?

As the report notes further:
In its recommendation, the audit commission run by businessman Tony Shepherd warned that outsourcing national payments would be a “substantial and potentially high-risk undertaking” requiring careful consideration.
 I imagine this will be a rather unpopular move, if it proceeds.

In many respects, this Abbott government resembles the Rudd Mk 1 government - they both cruised into office because of "the vibe", but with next to nothing in the way of specific, useful policies to pursue.   Rudd tried to "solve" this by calling together a bunch of people to bask in his greatness and  workshop motherhood statements on butcher's paper, with predictably little result.  He then hurriedly pulled dubious ideas out of his own backside (a laptop for every student! - yay!) and the resulting programs naturally had major problems.

Abbott couldn't do the Rudd "love in" thing - he knows most educated people* (and certainly arts industry people) actively dislike him.  Instead he had to rely on getting a few ex pollies and business mates with the right attitude ("climate change - ha! As if") to do rushed and dubious reports full of all sorts of small government daydreams.  But their ideas are at least as equally poorly thought out as Rudd's, and seem rarely to be based on solid examples of success in other countries.   They have the added quality of being potentially much more destructive of existing competent delivery of services than Rudd's ideas.

Can we just get the double dissolution over with now?   Everyone has already decided Abbott is a failure.

*  save for a handful of greedy Vice Chancellors.


nottrampis said...

outsourcing is terrible as any business school would tell you

Dave C said...

Another brain fart from Dutton of the Dead Eyes
How can a former Qld drug squadder have any qualifications for running one of the most important of our govt departments?